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Luján lands high-profile endorsements in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján sits next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a discussion about President Trump's tax cuts in April in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., sits next to then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during an April 2018 discussion about President Trump’s tax cuts in Santa Fe. Pelosi, who is now House Speaker, endorsed Luján’s campaign for U.S. Senate on Wednesday. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján is getting help from a powerful friend in Congress in his bid for an open U.S. Senate race.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday endorsed Luján’s campaign for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat who announced last month he would not seek re-election in 2020.

The endorsement did not come as a total surprise, as Pelosi had tabbed Luján to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a role he held for four years before stepping down earlier this year to run for a different caucus position.

In her Wednesday endorsement, Pelosi praised Luján’s work on health care issues and said he would serve New Mexico “with honor” in the Senate.

Luján also landed the endorsement of fellow U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., a first-term congresswoman who also considered running for the Senate seat but ultimately decided against doing so.

Luján, who this week reported having $634,000 in his federal campaign account, is currently the only Democratic candidate in the Senate race. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is also weighing a potential run and has indicated she will announce her plans by month’s end.

Gavin Clarkson of Las Cruces, who lost to Toulouse Oliver in last year’s general election as a fill-in candidate for secretary of state, is the lone Republican to enter the race so far.

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